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Vol. 80/No. 10      March 14, 2016

(feature article)

Students in Matanzas, Cuba, eager to learn about class politics in US

MATANZAS, Cuba — A packed auditorium of nearly 200 students and faculty members heard a presentation here of Pathfinder’s The Cuban Five Talk About Their Lives Within the US Working Class. The Feb. 25 meeting was held at the Camilo Cienfuegos University of Matanzas, some 60 miles east of Havana.

The featured speakers were Fernando González, one of the Cuban Five and vice president of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), and Pathfinder president and Socialist Workers Party leader Mary-Alice Waters. They were introduced by Sandra Ramírez, North America director of ICAP. Accompanying them on the platform were university vice rector Roberto Vizcón and Teresa Rubio, ICAP delegate for Matanzas province.

The students listened intently as both speakers explained that the book — as González put it — “is not about anecdotes of prison life, but about the class character of the U.S. ‘justice’ system and who those who end up in prison really are.”

González emphasized that the big majority of those behind bars in the United States “are not part of what Marx called the lumpenproletariat,” that is degraded, anti-social petty-criminal elements found in most capitalist cities. Yes, he said, there are some who are, but “the majority are not people with a criminal mentality.” They are “workers, people of modest resources and low incomes.”

That is why, he said, citing Ramón Labañino’s words highlighted on the book’s cover, “it’s the poor who face the savagery of the U.S. ‘justice’ system.”

During the discussion period, Edith González, dean of the school of social sciences and humanities, told the audience how, more than 20 years ago, she was part of a team of volunteers who helped make it possible for Pathfinder to publish a new edition of Lenin’s Final Fight in Spanish by checking the existing Spanish translations against the original Russian text of the speeches and writings of V.I. Lenin. She and the other volunteers were young professors at the University of Matanzas who had studied in the Soviet Union and were fluent in Russian. She described how proud they all were of contributing to get the book out, which remains one of the most sought-after titles every year at the Havana book fair.

A student asked about the political work that Socialist Workers Party members carry out in the United States, commenting that it must be very difficult. Waters replied that while that was a common perception outside the United States, “the work of communists is not more difficult in the United States than in Cuba or other countries. We face the same enemy as you — the imperialist rulers and their capitalist system. We’re in the same struggle, in the same trench.”

At the end of the program, the visiting team of communist workers from the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, who had come to Cuba to help introduce Pathfinder books to those attending the fair, was swamped by students seeking literature on revolutionary politics. Within minutes, all 106 Pathfinder books and dozens of copies of the Militant they had brought were sold out.
Related articles:
Class struggle in US and the Cuban Revolution today are focus of new books on the Cuban Five
‘A powerful indictment of capitalism: how prisons grind up human beings,
serve rulers’ class interests’

US capitalist ‘justice’ …some facts
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